Did you know November is world vegan month? I stumbled across that little fact the other day while browsing the online the food world, just after I had made this lovely vegan dish. Husband is a huge fan of Shepard’s pie (and I’m pretty sure just about anything that involves mashed potatoes). It turned out quite good, although the leftovers didn’t hold up as well as we had hoped! If I make it again, I’ll be sure to add twice as many mushrooms, since they’re my favorite and always add a extra level of richness and a bit more of a meaty texture. The lentils here were a lovely spicy choice for the filling and gave the meal an unexpected and wonderful flavor with a bit of bite.
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and Potato Mash
2 1/2 pounds (about 4 large) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup almond, soy, rice, or other milk
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 2 tbsp
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced evenly
2 ribs celery, diced evenly
6 ounces baby bella, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup brown or green lentils, dry
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Preheat oven to 350. Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot and submerge in cold water (there should be at least 1 inch of water over the vegetables). Salt water well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow potatoes and parsnips to cook for approximately 25-35 minutes, or until both vegetables are very fork tender. Drain, return the vegetables to the pot, and add 2/3 cup milk, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash well with a potato masher. If you need more milk, add the remaining 1/3 cup. Set the mashed potatoes and parsnips aside.
While potatoes are cooking, bring 1 1/2 cup lentils and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce and simmer until lentils have absorbed all liquid, and are soft (about 30 or 35 minutes). Set lentils aside.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and golden (10 minutes or so). Add the carrots and celery and cook till both vegetables are tender (another 8 minutes). Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the lentils, the rosemary, the thyme, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Simmer the mixture, stirring well to incorporate flavors. Add more liquid as needed: you don’t want there to be too much broth or liquid in the bottom of the pan, because you’ll get a runny shepherd’s pie, but you do want it to be quite moist. When everything is warm and well mixed, season to taste with salt & pepper.
In a large casserole dish, layer the lentil and veggie mixture. Spread the mashed potatoes delicately and evenly over. Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are browning. Sprinkle with extra rosemary, if desired, and serve.